Do you have an eagle eye for spotting spelling or grammar errors? If you answered “yes”, then becoming a proofreader might be the perfect job for you. As a freelance proofreader, you can get paid for your word skills. If you want to work from home, keep reading to learn how to become a proofreader, even if you have no experience.
With over a billion websites in existence today, it’s no surprise that proofreaders are in high demand, especially for bloggers and online businesses.
If you enjoy reading and are good at catching grammatical mistakes, then working from home as a freelance proofreader can be a great opportunity for you.
As an online proofreader, you are the last set of eyes to look at a piece of copy before it goes live to the public.
This means you take content that other people have written and proofread it with a fine-tooth comb.
One of the best parts about making money as a proofreader is that you can set your own hours and work from anywhere that has an internet connection. All you need is your computer or laptop to get started.
Does proofreading sound like a good fit for you? Sometimes it can be intimidating to start something new.
Fortunately you don’t have to go through the process alone. Today I’m sharing some helpful tips to help you learn the skills you need to become a proofreader.
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Table of Contents
What does a proofreader do?
Proofreading is the final stage of the writing process. This is where you’ll look for errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
For example, a proofreader will notice the difference between ‘their’, ‘there’, and ‘they’re’. The goal is to ensure that content is free of errors before it goes out to the public.
Many people confuse editing and proofreading. But they are actually two very different things. Editing happens BEFORE proofreading.
A copy editor works with the author by assisting with reordering and organizing content. This may involve deleting chunks of material or making the copy flow and read better.
As an online proofreader, you’ll be checking works for errors and mistakes, such as:
- Spelling mistakes or punctuation errors
- Typos and grammar errors
- Inconsistencies in the work’s style or layout
- Awkward page breaks
- Other issues that might ruin the reader’s experience
Online proofreaders can proof any type of written content, such as novels, children’s books, book manuscript, blog posts, legal documents, proofread transcripts, dissertation, academic papers and theses, resumes, magazines, newspapers, websites pages, textbooks, and so on.
It takes a certain “eagle eye” to be good at proofreading, but the gig can be very rewarding.
FREE Proofreading Workshop:
What qualifications do you need to be a proofreader?
The good news is that you don’t have to have a college degree or professional proofreader certification to make money as a proofreader.
Having a degree related to writing can be helpful, but it’s not always necessary.
It’s always a good idea to improve your skills by taking an up-to-date proofreading course.
Even if you did well in school, you may have forgotten some important grammar rules or never learned them in the first place.
Getting some extra training can be a great way to brush up on your proofreading skills and increase your confidence as a freelancer, especially before your start charging for it.
What skills do you need to become a proofreader?
While you don’t need a degree to become a proofreader, Caitlin Pyle, the mastermind behind Proofread Anywhere recommends having the following skills if you want to be a successful:
✓ Having a knack for spotting grammar errors and typos – This can certainly be learned, however if you have a natural ability to spot errors, this can help you succeed as a proofreader.
✓ You must be attentive – A good proofreader can focus on the details and notice errors when reading through a project.
✓ You must be willing to do your own research – When proofreading, if you come across a word that you’re not familiar with, it’s important to do your own research instead of sending it back to the client saying you don’t understand it.
You can always use Google to help you out. Caitlin offers two proofreading courses and says her students love the supportive Facebook groups where they can ask questions and get feedback.
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How much money can I make as a proofreader?
According to Salary.com, average full-time proofreaders earned $54,192 as of December 2021. The average salary typically falls between $47,00 and $61,000+.
With that said, proofreaders with more experience or expertise can command even higher fees. The amount of money you make will depend on your experience, skills, education, and so on.
In 2014, Caitlin earned $43,000 in her first year as a freelance proofreader. She only worked an average of 20-25 hours a week.
While this salary won’t make you a millionaire, you can make enough money to help pay off debt faster or add more freedom to your life.
Plus, as you begin to gain more proofreading experience, you can quickly increase your rates!
And if you don’t want to work full-time, you don’t have to. Working part-time as a freelance proofreader is one of the best way to make extra money.
Is proofreading well paid?
Yes, proofreading can be a well paying career. The demand for proofreaders have been increasing steadily in recent years.
The average proofreader salary in the United States is $56,040 (Salary.com). And according to Zip Recruiter, proofreaders can see an hourly wage as high as $44.
How much do beginner proofreaders make? When you’re just starting out, proofreaders earn an average of $24 per hour.
Due to the rise of online businesses, there is huge need for people to proofread sales copy, blog posts, books, and online courses.
Don’t worry about the proofreading market being saturated. Not everyone that claims to be a proofreader has the skills necessary to succeed in this industry.
That’s why taking a proofreading training can be a great way to improve your skills and stand out from the crowd.
Working as a proofreader can also have a number of life-changing benefits. Many people are looking to become a stay-at-home parent, but still want to find a way to make money for their family too.
Working from home as a proofreader might be the perfect opportunity for you. If you learn how to become a proofreader, you’ll get to have:
- MORE FREEDOM – Escape your 9-5 job, work with who you want, work when you want, work where you want.
- MORE FINANCIAL SECURITY – You can earn enough money to stop living paycheck to paycheck, pay off debt faster, afford to travel more, save more money.
- MORE FLEXIBILITY – Create your own schedule, work when it’s best for you.
FREE Workshop for Beginners:
Do you need certification to be a proofreader?
No! You don’t need a proofreader certifcation to start applying to online proofreading jobs.
With that said, to become a proofreader without a degree, it’s important to have the following skills so you can stand out from the competition.
You must love to read
Yes, this is a no-brainer. But if you’re serious about making money as a proofreader, you have to love reading.
Working as a proofreader often involves a lot of reading and re-reading of material. This is because you want to make sure you catch any spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes.
You must have a good command of the English language
While you don’t need to have an English degree to become a successful proofreader, having a good understanding and command of the language is essential.
This is because you’ll need to recognize bad grammar or catch basic spelling mistakes.
You must have good time-management skills
Working from home can have a number of benefits, but it’s also easy to get distracted.
Whether you choose to work from your kitchen table or at a local cafe, having good time management skills is essential.
The best way to develop good time management skills is to create a schedule for yourself to follow.
This can help build structure to your day when working from home. Dedicate a set amount of hours that you want to work on a project so you can meet deadlines.
How do I become a proofreader with no experience?
While you can find entry level proofreading jobs without having any experience, there are a few things that can help you to get ahead.
Caitlin Pyle, the creator of Proofread Anywhere, says that these are the 5 things that successful freelance proofreaders do to get hired, even if they don’t have a degree. Follow these tips to help you land your first proofreading job.
1. Successful proofreaders find a niche
Now that you know what a proofreader does, the next step is to figure out which particular niche would fit your skillset.
Fortunately there is a never ending stream of new content and print today, which is good news for proofreaders.
When you choose a proofreading niche, this can help you position yourself as an expert in that industry.
Proofreaders that target a specific niche or niches can often command more money, depending on the industry. Some popular proofreading niches include:
- Blog posts
- Website pages
- Court reporters
- Legal documents
- User manuals and handbooks
2. Successful proofreaders are always learning
While it’s great to be passionate about your niche, unfortunately it’s not enough – otherwise everyone would become a proofreader.
To become a high-earner proofreader, you must master your skills. This means it’s important to practice your skills daily.
Read anything you can, such as blog posts, newspapers, or books, and keep an eye out for errors, typos, or any formating inconsistencies.
It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with style guides in the industries that you’re interested in proofreading for.
For example, some popualr style guides include AP Stylebook, Chicago Manual of Style, MLA Style, and APA Style.
3. Successful proofreaders aren’t afraid to promote themselves
Caitlin recommends diversifying your marketing. This means find where your target customer is and promote your proofreading services.
You can create a website to market yourself (here’s an in-depth guide) or get to know how to use social media, especially LinkedIn and Twitter.
You can engage with writers and publishers to build connections. Get creative with your marketing strategy and don’t be afraid to be werid.
4. Successful proofreaders answer emails fast
If you take days or weeks to respond to emails, think about what message that sends to your potential clients.
It tends to make clients think you’re not being attentive to them, so why should they expect you to be attentive to their work?
Responding to emails prompty is part of providing good customer service. It’s especially important in niche industries with strict deadlines. This shows that you have good communication skills.
5. Successful proofreaders never give up
No one is perfect and yes, we all make mistakes. This is common when starting any type of freelance business or career.
Each mistake or setback can teach us a lesson. It’s what action you take from those new experiences that can help build your true character and become the successful proofreader that you want to be.
Who hires proofreaders?
Basically anyone that publishes content can benefit from hiring a proofreader. Below are some of the common niches and types of work you might choose to do as a proofreader.
Online businesses – Website copy, product descriptions, sales pages, reports.
Bloggers – Blog posts, online courses, e-books, email and newsletters, social media copy.
Students – Essays, theses, academic papers.
Publishing houses / Self-publishing authors – Books, sales page, blurbs, book jacket, marketing copy.
Legal – Court transcripts, documents created by lawyers and paralegals.
What tools do I need to be a successful proofeader?
Below are the tops tools that every freelance proofreader should be familiar with. The best part is, most of these tools are FREE to use.
Microsoft Word – It’s easy to proofread in Microsoft Word. Use it to check grammar, spelling, word choice, track changes, and edit the details of your work.
Google Docs – Similiar to Microsoft Word, Google Docs offers proofreading and editing services. Also, most people use Gmail, so you can easily share your work with clients.
Grammarly – This is a handy plugin that can help you eliminate grammar errors in your work and highlighting basic style issues.
Hemingway App – This app is great for highlighting complex sentence structure, word choise, and common errors. It’s straightforward and easy to use.
How do I find proofreading jobs?
Now that you know what skills and tools you need to become a proofreader, it’s time to start looking for clients.
Below are some websites where you can find proofreading jobs online. Some websites are free to use, some take a flat fee, and some will take a percentage of your sales.
Fiverr – This is an online platform that connects businesses with freelances offering digital services such as proofreading, writing, and editing.
It’s free to join and it can be an excellent place for beginners to start building their porfolio.
Upwork – Similiar to Fiverr, this is an online platform where freelancers can find paid work as a proofreader.
It’s free to create an account, then you can set your rates, bid for jobs, and pitch your projects.
Scribendi – This site specializes in editing and proofreading services. Before you can start looking for jobs, you’ll need to fill out an application. Then you can pick and choose which projects you want to take on.
Networking and online – Join groups for proofreaders on Facebook and LinkedIn. You can participate in discussions and network with potential clients to find jobs.
Are there any classes I can take to help me get started as a proofreader?
While formal training isn’t necessary to get started as a proofreader, brushing up on your proofreading skills can definitely help you stand out from the crowd.
Most proofreading work is done by freelancers, even for publishing houses. Due to this, it’s important to learn how to set-up and manage your own proofreading business.
My friend Caitlin over at Proofread Anywhere is one of the most talented online proofreaders out there.
As a former freelance proofreader, she has compiled all of her knowledge into a comprehensive proofreading course: General Proofreading: Theory & Practice™.
She’ll teach you the basics of proofreading to make sure you’re a word-skills superstar!
After you’ve mastered these skills, Caitlin will show you how to turn this newfound knowledge into a thriving and profitable business.
You’ll walk away from this course knowing exactly how to find clients, structure your work day, and run a successful proofreading business. Sounds like high-value stuff, right?
Almost all of her course graduates have incredible success stories and have found freelance proofreading jobs from home.
This can be the perfect opportunity for someone with word-skills who’s looking to start working for themselves.
Below are some of her students sharing their excitement and success in the private Facebook mastermind group.
Caitlin’s course has been featured in everything, including Business Insider, Forbes, and popular online blogs.
Is this course effective?
If you put in the work, then yes, the course is extremely effective.
But I can appreciate if you’re not quite ready to jump headfirst into this. I mean, this course can certainly help you excel as a freelance proofreader, but perhaps you still have some questions.
For example, maybe you’re thinking, “This is something I would love…but since I have no experience, how can I just become a proofreader?”
How do you go from knowing nothing about proofreading to winning over clients and making money?
It’s funny because Caitlin had the same thought as you!
Most online courses don’t teach the part where you actually go out into the real world and apply what you’ve learn.
This is what makes Caitlin’s Proofreading course so valuable – because half of the lessons are dedicated to helping you find proofreader jobs or managing your own freelance business.
That’s why many of Caitlin’s course graduates have been so successful.
She’ll give you the resources and tools you need to find work. You’ll get everything you need to be a grow your business, such as practicing essays, quizzes and exams, and how to market yourself.
What’s included in the General Proofreading course?
Most students complete the course in under a month, but the course is entirely self-paced and you’ll have lifetime access.
In the past five years, she has taught over 9,000 students in her course!
When you enroll in her course, you’ll gain the skills needed to succeed as a proofreader, PLUS you’ll learn how to make money from your skills and create a profitable business.
Here’s what you’ll learn in General Proofreading:
Module 1: Introduction to General Proofreading
Here you’ll learn the basics of proofreading including what it takes to succeed in this industry and the types of companies that require proofreaders.
Module 2: Grammar Refresher
This module covers all the principles of grammar including pronouns, parts of speech, contractions and possessives, and verb forms. This will give you everything you need in your tool belt to become a successful proofreader.
Module 3: Sentence Structure
You’ll learn about subjects and predicates, sentence fragments and run-on sentences, subject / verb agreement, order of adjectives, and more.
Module 4: Spelling and Word Use for Proofreaders
You’ll learn common typos and misused words, numbers, American and British spelling variations and capitalization that is important to watch out for as a proofreader.
Module 5: Punctuation Principles
You’ll learn common punctuation mistakes, when and how to apply apostrophes, hyphenated and compound words, commas and semicolons, quotation marks, en. vs. em dashes, and italics.
Module 6: Proofreading Methods
You’ll learn 4 different types of proofreading methods and style in proofreading. You’ll even get to apply what you learned with sample practice jobs.
Module 7: Proofreading Practice
You’ll receive 3 sets of practice essays so you can self-assess your performance and identify your weak areas so you can make improvements.
Module 8: Types of Proofreading
You’ll learn the primary types of proofreading, including academic proofreading, blogging, podcast show notes, business writing, and creative writing.
Module 9: Turning Proofreading into a Business
You’ll learn how to create your business so you can start attracting clients and earning money. This module will show you how to set up your own website, set your rates, and build up your experience fast so you can earn the maximum income.
Module 10: Finding Clients
You’ll learn how to identify good proofreading clients by following proven strategies and tips and tricks.
Module 11: Marketing Basics
You’ll learn how to market yourself like a pro through social media and your website.
Module 12: Your Workflow
Once you’ve landed your first client, this module will show you exactly how to deliver on your promise, bill for your services, and build a desirable reputation to attract more clients.
Module 13: Getting the Most Out of the Freelancing Life
Learn how a typical proofreader structures their day and how to build your confidence to succeed as a freelancer.
Don’t just take my word for it, though. I recommend checking out Caitlin’s free workshop (details below).
FREE Proofreading Workshop
Caitlin has put together a FREE Workshop where she will share:
• What a successful proofreader does (and doesn’t do)
• Information about proofreading as a profession – including one great place to find paid work.
• How to elevate your skills to become a GREAT proofreader.
• Plus, a FREE tutorial on how to use the most popular proofreading tool on the market so you can learn how to find clients.
Her workshop is completely free to join. You can sign up here.
Freelance Proofreading Success Story
I was impressed by Alicia’s story, who made $1,100 the first month after she completed Caitlin’s proofreading course. The impressive part is that she earned this money while still working full-time at her retail banking job!
She didn’t have a bachelor’s degree in English or journalism (her degree was in accounting). She used her daily commute to proofread and earn extra money.
It took her just three weeks to find her first client and made $1,100 during her first month.
She took advantage of that wasted time on her commute to increase her income. Did I mention she also has two kids?
With the right training and hard work, you too can make some good money with just a few clients.
Proofreading is not for everyone, but if you have an “eagle eye” for words, this can be a great fit for you.
Ready to begin your proofreading career? Start by accessing Caitlin’s FREE Workshop here.
Become a Freelance Proofreader FAQs
Do proofreaders make good money?
Yes. As a freelance proofreader, your income will vary depending on the job and experience level. Most proofreaders make an average rate of $12 to $30 per hour. While it won’t make you rich, this can still be a great way to make extra money and you can increase your rates as you gain more experience.
Can I get a proofreading job without a degree?
Yes. You don’t need any formal education to get a proofreading job. But you do need an eye for detail, above-average grammar skills, and self-discipline to succeed as a freelance proofreader.
How do I get certified to be a proofreader?
To become a certified proofreader, you’ll need to master the language you’re interested in working in. You can also take a course to obtain a professional certification by passing an exam.
Is proofreading hard to learn?
No, it’s not hard to learn, but you’ll need to be committed. It’s important to demonstrate your understanding of the written language you’ll be working in and master the skills required to become a successful proofreader.
Are proofreading jobs in demand?
Yes. Since proofreading is an essential part of the writing process, proofreaders are always in high demand. Although there are helpful tools such as Grammarly and the Hemingway App, they cannot replace the value of a qualified proofreader.